||8 MT / 10 ET / 3 GMT
|25-15-6||January 11th, 2010
|56 pts||Pengrowth Saddledome
6th in West
3rd in West
This is a very big game. Really.
Let's get the ramifications of the standings out of the way first. Calgary sits atop the Northwest Division with 57 points and the Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks are right behind them with 56. The Avs have played one more game than the Flames and Canucks (who host Nashville about 30 minutes after the puck drops on this one), so lose the first tie-breaker to either team in the case of a tie. With that in mind, the Avalanche need to win in regulation and hope that Nashville beats Vancouver in order to vault the Avs into 1st in the NW (and 3rd in the West). If the Avs and Flames go into overtime tonight, the Avalanche won't be able to catch the Flames in the standings but it won't be all bad news; a single point by the Avs tonight guarantees Colorado wins the potentially vital head-to-head tiebreaker with Calgary.
Okay, enough with the slide rule talk. The Avalanche want to win this game. Badly. The Flames want to win this game. Badly. One team is going to be willing to work harder than the other to make that happen, setting this up as a perfect gut check for our heroes in the road white uniprons. The Avalanche have won all three games this year against Calgary and 5 straight going back to last season (yeah, that surprised me too), so the Flames may be especially motivated. Plus, the last meeting was the Curtis Glencross Sandy Vagina Episode and the Flames may still be bitter about the way Matt Duchene dives by throwing his face at people's sticks; we've already had 4 fights between the teams this year and the scrappiness factor may be ratcheted up even more tonight. Watch for Ryan Wilson, who has a point in each of the 3 games against his former club. Ditto for Wojtek Wolski; he has 4 points against Calgary this year and, with no points in his last 6 games, is due to bust out in a big way.
I'm sure we all can guess the who will be in net for both teams. All 3 of the Avs' wins against Calgary this year have been by a 3-2 margin, so Craig Anderson will need to improve on that whole "3-goals-a-game" streak he's got going. As much as this is a test for the Avs as a team, this is a huge test for Andy. Chances are he will need to outplay Mikka Kiprussoff tonight in order to give Colorado team an opportunity to win. This is what #1 goalies do, and I hope he's up to the task. I'm not a huge fan of hyperbole, but I can't shake the feeling that, when all is said and done, this game is going to stand out as a vitally important game for the Avalanche...one way or another.
|Stastny||41 pts||Top Scorer||Iginla||42 pts|